Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Janitor (Michael Tuviera, Cinemalaya 2014)

A beauteous St. Paul University coed was chatting with her schoolmate inside the orange shuttle jeepney. They were wondering about the significance of the film's title: The Janitor. I bet several other Cinemalaya fans were as bewildered as the duo.

Here's my advice to moviegoers: just ignore the lame title for this is an engrossing film about a suspended cop tasked to wipe out criminals. Bristling with energy, The Janitor was a crowd favorite at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It stars Dennis Trillo, Richard Gomez, and Derek Ramsay.

Crisanto Espina (Dennis Trillo) is a regular church goer. But, he is no saint. He salvages hardened criminals. There are lots of labels that can fit his dirty job including The Equalizer, The Punisher, The Hitman, The Killer, The Salvager, The Executioner, and The Assassin.

Now, why did the filmmakers settle on a wimpy label, The Janitor? Director Mike Tuviera provided the answer during the film premiere. He introduced Trillo as 'ang taga-linis ng mga masasama.'

Crisanto sure cleaned up the whole gang involved in a hideous bank robbery massacre in Laguna. Each hit by Crisanto is preceded by a turn of the wheel of torture. The gritty torture scenes provide us with the name of a suspect and his crimes. Armed with precious information on the criminals, the audience roots for Crisanto to succeed in his stylishly-choreographed killings.

One of the best scenes shows Crisanto running after a big catch during a drug raid. He easily hurdles the curved concrete staircase. The camera follows Crisanto every step of the way giving the audience an adrenaline rush of the exhilarating chase.

There are a couple of things in the film that should have been executed better. I'm disappointed with the bank interiors. A pair of toilets next to the workstations gives new meaning to deposits and withdrawals. Maybe the point of the filmmakers is to highlight the poor security features of the bank.

The police checkpoint hit is lame. Isn't it a bit odd for a top police officer to loiter around in a deserted police checkpoint at nighttime? Not a fan of The Godfather, eh?

I wonder why the Paulinian student missed the significance of the ending of The Janitor. Crisanto is seen sweeping the floor of debris. Included among the dirty things are pictures of the criminals.

If the character and actuations of Crisanto are the basis of the title, then a more accurate title should be The Door Mat. The fearless assassin is no match to a long-time nemesis. He gets beaten up always. This wonderful plotline gives the film extra emotional heft and one more reason to see this box-office hit.

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